The Spiritual Life. A. D. 62.
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on
things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life
is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear,
then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The apostle, having described our privileges by Christ in the former
part of the epistle, and our discharge from the yoke of the ceremonial
law, comes here to press upon us our duty as inferred thence. Though we
are made free from the obligation of the ceremonial law, it does not therefore
follow that we may live as we list. We must walk the more closely with
God in all the instances of evangelical obedience. He begins with exhorting
them to set their hearts on heaven, and take them off from this world:
If you then have risen with Christ. It is our privilege that we have risen
with Christ; that is, have benefit by the resurrection of Christ, and by
virtue of our union and communion with him are justified and sanctified,
and shall be glorified. Hence he infers that we must seek those things
which are above. We must mind the concerns of another world more than the
concerns of this. We must make heaven our scope and aim, seek the favour
of God above, keep up our communion with the upper world by faith, and
hope, and holy love, and make it our constant care and business to secure
our title to and qualifications for the heavenly bliss. And the reason
is because Christ sits at the right hand of God. He who is our best friend
and our head is advanced to the highest dignity and honour in heaven, and
has gone before to secure to us the heavenly happiness; and therefore we
should seek and secure what he has purchased at so vast an expense, and
is taking so much care about. We must live such a life as Christ lived
here on earth and lives now in heaven, according to our capacities.
I. He explains this duty (v. 2): Set your affections on things above,
not on things on the earth. Observe, To seek heavenly things is to set
our affections upon them, to love them and let our desires be towards them.
Upon the wings of affection the heart soars upwards, and is carried forth
towards spiritual and divine objects. We must acquaint ourselves with them,
esteem them above all other things, and lay out ourselves in preparation
for the enjoyment of them. David gave this proof of his loving the house
of God, that he diligently sought after it, and prepared for it, Ps. xxvii.
4. This is to be spiritually minded (Rom. viii. 6), and to seek and desire
a better country, that is, a heavenly, Heb. xi. 14, 16. Things on earth
are here set in opposition to things above. We must not dote upon them,
nor expect too much from them, that we may set our affections on heaven;
for heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, and a supreme regard
to both is inconsistent; and the prevalence of our affection to one will
proportionably weaken and abate our affection to the other.
II. He assigns three reasons for this, v. 3, 4.
1. That we are dead; that is, to present things, and as our portion.
We are so in profession and obligation; for we are buried with Christ,
and planted into the likeness of his death. Every Christian is crucified
unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him, Gal. vi. 14. And if
we are dead to the earth, and have renounced it as our happiness, it is
absurd for us to set our affections upon it, and seek it. We should be
like a dead thing to it, unmoved and unaffected towards it.
2. Our true life lies in the other world: You are dead, and your life
is hid with Christ in God, v. 3. The new man has its livelihood thence.
It is born and nourished from above; and the perfection of its life is
reserved for that state. It is hid with Christ; not hid from us only, in
point of secrecy, but hid for us, denoting security. The life of a Christian
is hid with Christ. Because I live you shall live also, John xiv. 19. Christ
is at present a hidden Christ, or one whom we have not seen; but this is
our comfort, that our life is hid with him, and laid up safely with him.
As we have reason to love him whom we have not seen (1 Pet. i. 8), so we
may take the comfort of a happiness out of sight, and reserved in heaven
3. Because at the second coming of Christ we hope for the perfection
of our happiness. If we live a life of Christian purity and devotion now,
when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall also appear with him
in glory, v. 4. Observe, (1.) Christ is a believer's life. I live, yet
not I, but Christ lives in me, Gal. ii. 20. He is the principle and end
of the Christian's life. He lives in us by his Spirit, and we live to him
in all we do. To me to live is Christ, Phil. i. 21. (2.) Christ will appear
again. He is now hid; and the heavens must contain him; but he will appear
in all the pomp of the upper world, with his holy angels, and in his own
glory and his Father's glory, Mark viii. 38; Luke ix. 26. (3.) We shall
then appear with him in glory. It will be his glory to have his redeemed
with him; he will come to be glorified in his saints (2 Thess. i. 10);
and it will be their glory to come with him, and be with him for ever.
At the second coming of Christ there will be a general meeting of all the
saints; and those whose life is now hid with Christ shall then appear with
Christ in that glory which he himself enjoys, John xvii. 24. Do we look
for such a happiness, and should we not set our affections upon that world,
and live above this? What is there here to make us fond of it? What is
there not there to draw our hearts to it? Our head is there, our home is
there, our treasure is there, and we hope to be there for ever.
Necessity of Mortifying Sin. A. D. 62.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication,
uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness,
which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on
the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time,
when ye lived in them.
The apostle exhorts the Colossians to the mortification of sin, the
great hindrance to seeking the things which are above. Since it is our
duty to set our affections upon heavenly things, it is our duty to mortify
our members which are upon the earth, and which naturally incline us to
the things of the world: "Mortify them, that is, subdue the vicious habits
of mind which prevailed in your Gentile state. Kill them, suppress them,
as you do weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them, or as
you kill an enemy who fights against you and wounds you."--Your members
which are upon the earth; either the members of the body, which are the
earthly part of us, and were curiously wrought in the lower parts of the
earth (Ps. cxxxix. 15), or the corrupt affections of the mind, which lead
us to earthly things, the members of the body of death, Rom. vii. 24. He
I. The lusts of the flesh, for which they were before so very remarkable:
Fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence--the
various workings of the carnal appetites and fleshly impurities, which
they indulged in their former course of life, and which were so contrary
to the Christian state and the heavenly hope.
II. The love of the world: And covetousness, which is idolatry; that
is, an inordinate love of present good and outward enjoyments, which proceeds
from too high a value in the mind, puts upon too eager a pursuit, hinders
the proper use and enjoyment of them, and creates anxious fear and immoderate
sorrow for the loss of them. Observe, Covetousness is spiritual idolatry:
it is the giving of that love and regard to worldly wealth which are due
to God only, and carries a greater degree of malignity in it, and is more
highly provoking to God, than is commonly thought. And it is very observable
that among all the instances of sin which good men are recorded in the
scripture to have fallen into (and there is scarcely any but some or other,
in one or other part of their life, have fallen into) there is no instance
in all the scripture of any good man charged with covetousness. He proceeds
to show how necessary it is to mortify sins, v. 6, 7. 1. Because, if we
do not kill them, they will kill us: For which things' sake the wrath of
God cometh on the children of disobedience, v. 6. See what we are all by
nature more or less: we are children of disobedience: not only disobedient
children, but under the power of sin and naturally prone to disobey. The
wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are
born, speaking lies, Ps. lviii. 3. And, being children of disobedience,
we are children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. The wrath of God comes upon all the
children of disobedience. Those who do not obey the precepts of the law
incur the penalties of it. The sins he mentions were their sins in their
heathen and idolatrous state, and they were then especially the children
of disobedience; and yet these sins brought judgments upon them, and exposed
them to the wrath of God. 2. We should mortify these sins because they
have lived in us: In which you also walked some time, when you lived in
them, v. 7. Observe, The consideration that we have formerly lived in sin
is a good argument why we should now forsake it. We have walked in by-paths,
therefore let us walk in them no more. If I have done iniquity, I will
do no more, Job xxxiv. 32. The time past our lives may suffice us to have
wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, 1 Pet.
iv. 3.-- When you lived among those who did such things (so some understand
it), then you walked in those evil practices. It is a hard thing to live
among those who do the works of darkness and not have fellowship with them,
as it is to walk in the mire and contract no soil. Let us keep out of the
way of evil-doers.
Necessity of Mortifying Sin. A. D. 62.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy,
filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing
that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the
new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created
him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,
Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
As we are to mortify inordinate appetites, so we are to mortify inordinate
passions (v. 8): But now you also put off all these, anger wrath, malice;
for these are contrary to the design of the gospel, as well as grosser
impurities; and, though they are more spiritual wickedness, have not less
malignity in them. The gospel religion introduces a change of the higher
as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the dominion of right
reason and conscience over appetite and passion. Anger and wrath are bad,
but malice is worse, because it is more rooted and deliberate; it is anger
heightened and settled. And, as the corrupt principles in the heart must
be cut off, so the product of them in the tongue; as blasphemy, which seems
there to mean, not so much speaking ill of God as speaking ill of men,
giving ill language to them, or raising ill reports of them, and injuring
their good name by any evil arts,--filthy communication, that is, all lewd
and wanton discourse, which comes from a polluted mind in the speaker and
propagates the same defilements in the hearers,--and lying: Lie not one
to another (v. 9), for it is contrary both to the law of truth and the
law of love, it is both unjust and unkind, and naturally tends to destroy
all faith and friendship among mankind. Lying makes us like the devil (who
is the father of lies), and is a prime part of the devil's image upon our
souls; and therefore we are cautioned against this sin by this general
reason: Seeing you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put
on the new man, v. 10. The consideration that we have by profession put
away sin and espoused the cause and interest of Christ, that we have renounced
all sin and stand engaged to Christ, should fortify us against this sin
of lying. Those who have put off the old man have put it off with its deeds;
and those who have put on the new man must put on all its deeds--not only
espouse good principles but act them in a good conversation. The new man
is said to be renewed in knowledge, because an ignorant soul cannot be
a good soul. Without knowledge the heart cannot be good, Prov. xix. 2.
The grace of God works upon the will and affections by renewing the understanding.
Light is the first thing in the new creation, as it was in the first: after
the image of him who created him. It was the honour of man in innocence
that he was made after the image of God; but that image was defaced and
lost by sin, and is renewed by sanctifying grace: so that a renewed soul
is something like what Adam was in the day he was created. In the privilege
and duty of sanctification there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision
nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, v. 11. There is
now no difference arising from different country or different condition
and circumstance of life: it is as much the duty of the one as of the other
to be holy, and as much the privilege of the one as of the other to receive
from God the grace to be so. Christ came to take down all partition-walls,
that all might stand on the same level before God, both in duty and privilege.
And for this reason, because Christ is all in all. Christ is a Christian's
all, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness. And to
those who are sanctified, one as well as another and whatever they are
in other respects, he is all in all, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning
and the end: he is all in all things to them.